‘Hypoxia’ is Liverpool born singer songwriter Kathryn Williams’ latest release. The album is inspired by Sylvia Plath’s cult classic coming of age novel ‘The Bell Jar’. Williams draws on the sonic textures of her 2011 release ‘The Pond’ whilst bringing a few new flavours to the table such as the glam rock guitars that emerge in the single ‘Mirrors’.
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Kathryn Williams is back with another record of brooding indie rock in the vein of Sharon Van Etten, the National and whoever just moved a piano into their fifth floor apartment. ‘Hypoxia’ isn’t much different from previous releases, but more than ever it feels like a meticulous endeavour; Williams is trying to integrate her love of sparsity into a record that demands bolder and more striking arrangements.
Williams is a crafty songwriter, though you might not notice it. “Battleships” is the kind of curious music she conjures up best: as a mere acoustically picked track, it has the strange powers of Marissa Nadler and Case Studies, artists who croon through dark empty spaces; Williams, however, goes a little further, delivering winding, spectral sounds that would make bedroom pop more of a ghost story. “Cuckoo” does a similar job in feeling both humane and overzealously balladeering at the same time, while the listless twang of “Part of Us” betrays a secret sense of loneliness: the song’s warm, communal harmonies are juxtaposed with its staunch first-person narrative in which Williams finds herself all on her own.
Not all of it is perfect, and at points Williams’ tracks languish a little too long amidst meandering plucks, like the half-finished “Beating Heart”. Ultimately, though, ‘Hypoxia’ is a relaxing and occasionally enthralling work with the kind of slight textural additives that make Williams an interesting songwriter.
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